The Role of Production Cooperatives in Rural Women`s Empowerment; Case of Homayjan Women Rural Cooperative

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture Extension and Education, University of Zabol, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture Extension and Education, University of Shiraz, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture Extension and Education, Tarbiyat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

4 MA., Agriculture Extension and Education, University of Shiraz, Iran


The empowerment of women is an essential precondition for the elimination of world poverty and the upholding of human rights. This concept is accompanied with freedom, self-determination, and power, which are necessary for the women all over the world. Empowerment gives the rights to women to enable them be independent of men. The concept of power has a long history in social sciences and its derivatives like empowerment is one of the controversial topics among social science and management researchers. Women’s empowerment is often described as a key factor in the well-being of women and their households, and as such, has been quantified, measured and described in a variety of ways. It is a dynamic process that cannot be observed directly, but through the use of proxies and indicators it can be approximated. The empowerment of women is an essential precondition for the elimination of world poverty and the upholding of human rights. Particularly at the individual level, it helps build a base for social change. Empowerment is very context specific, and in a predominantly Islamic society with high levels of illiteracy and poverty, the indicators used to measure global dimensions of empowerment are very different than those applicable in a Western context. The fact that many women in the developing world are now better able to control fertility does not necessarily mean that they have become more empowered. Even with nearly two decades of empirical research on assessment of women’s empowerment and measurement of empowerment indicators, the process of women’s empowerment is still poorly understood. Over the past twenty years, the central role of rural women in relation to many aspects of development, such as providing food security, environmental sustainability, poverty reduction, population control, and social development is clear for the international community. Women are in sustainable development strategies as often as those of the central core. Poverty reduction policies, as well as women's work and the benefits they are entitled to, can be helpful for them. Female empowerment has now become both as an end in itself and as a means to achieving other development goals. In recent decades, empowerment has become a mechanism for the improvement of life quality of women. Creation of the rural women cooperatives is one of the main mechanisms for empowering women. Cooperatives are the most rational and convenient form of organizing small and medium farmers. They are key components of strategy for developing rural and underdeveloped regions. Besides providing competitive positions in the market, the most important fact is that cooperatives make sure that part of the profit generated in agricultural production chains remains with farmers which enables reinvesting and improvement of production on an ongoing basis. Many experts of economic and social development in Iran stressed the need for women to form cooperatives. They emphasized the role of women in economic and social activities, to expand their participation in the development process with the cooperation mechanism. Empowering women is one of the issues that have recently attracted attention of many researchers. Empowering women means that women have achieved a level of personal development that enabled them to make their choice based on demand. Review on previous researches demonstrates that the creation of women’s cooperatives serves as a strategy for women's empowerment in the recent years. This research aims at investigating the impact of Homayjan Women Rural Cooperative - as a national successful women’s cooperative - on female empowerment.
This study examines the role of the women rural cooperative on all the aspects of women`s empowerment. It can provide the understanding of how cooperatives influence the members. This study also indicates that with membership and participation in cooperative activities, you will have the ability to influence many aspects. In addition, this study examined factors that were influencing women`s empowerment. A case study approach was employed for this research. It used a sampling method and was proportionally classified. Data were collected through a questionnaire with 123 cooperative members and board members, (out of 300 members). The impact of cooperative membership on female empowerment was measured in economic, socio-cultural, familial, and psychological dimensions. Face validity of the structured questionnaire was verified by a panel of experts, and reliability was obtained through a pilot test.
The results revealed that cooperatives have a low impact on female improvement in all dimensions, as perceived by cooperative members. Results showed that member`s satisfaction and income were predictor variables of women`s empowerment. In order to analyze the most important factors that influence the empowerment of rural women in Homayjan Cooperative and also to determine the independent variables in the prediction of empowerment of the members, multiple regression tests were used. The stepwise method was used to determine the regression model.
The results show that, members' satisfaction in cooperatives and income are two of the most important predictor variables of empowerment of rural women in a cooperative.